Belmont Club

The Raven

The New York Times reports that Russian advisers and jets have arrived in Iraq to help the Maliki government stave off the advances of ISIS.

BAGHDAD — Iraqi government officials said Sunday that Russian experts had arrived in Iraq to help the army get 12 new Russian warplanes into the fight against Sunni extremists, while the extremists declared their leader the caliph, or absolute ruler, of all jihadi organizations worldwide.

The Russian move was at least an implicit rebuke to the United States, which the Iraqis believe has been too slow to supply American F-16s and attack helicopters — although the United States is now in the process of providing both.

They will find American and Iranian special forces there to keep them company — a bizarre gathering, like a sort of Mos Eisely cantina along the Euphrates. “Last week, President Obama ordered 300 American military advisers into the country, and the Iranians have reportedly sent advisers from their Republican Guards’ Quds Force.”  The Business Insider called it a “bizarre alliance”.

But nothing is now too strange for the Administration’s foreign policy. Like Yogi Berra it has come to a crossroads and taken it, going both ways at once. Haaretz says that the “Iraq crisis pushing Obama toward alliance with Syria and Iran”.  But at the same time Obama has not neglected his alliance with their arch-enemy, Saudi Arabia.

Two days ago John Kerry met with Saudi Arabia “to help roll back the Islamic State of Iraq and al- Sham, an extremist group that controls wide swaths of territory in Syria and this month seized cities and towns across northern Iraq.” Saudi Arabia has a kind of schizophrenic relationship with ISIS.  On the one hand they are its principal target. But on the other, they are its principal enablers. You might almost say the same about the Obama administration.

Mr. Kerry’s visit comes a day after the Saudi monarch chaired a meeting of his national-security council on the threat of ISIS, which regards Saudi Arabia as an enemy because of the kingdom’s alliance with the U.S. and the rest of the West.

King Abdullah ordered Thursday that “all necessary measures” be taken to protect the kingdom from terror groups and other threats to its security. Saudi authorities have given no details of that order.

Saudi authorities declared ISIS a terrorist group in March. Two months later, they accused Saudi members of ISIS of trying to recruit local militants to plan attacks inside the kingdom.

Mos Eisley cantina lacks a few more customers yet. Once the Saudis, Isis and the Turks have arrived then it’ll be just like old times. ISIS’ spearheads have reached the border of Saudi Arabia, a country that is widely regarded as ISIS’ primary sponsor, and so too is Turkey, another American ally. Don’t try to understand Who’s On First, just accept as Michael Rubin maintains in Commentary, that Frankenstein’s monster is on the loose and tearing up the neighborhood and resign yourself to the inevitability that whoever wins, the Chinese will get the oil.

it is as important to recognize that Saudi Arabia and its promotion of radical Islam has historically been as poisonous as the Islamic Republic of Iran (if not more so). Saudi authorities have cracked down slightly after suffering their own blowback a decade ago, but many Saudi charities continue to fund extremism and hate.

Turkey, meanwhile, has become a state sponsor of terrorism in all but official U.S. designation. … Since the current ISIS/Baathist uprising in Iraq started, Turkey’s behavior has been absolutely reprehensible. There have been photographs circulated in Turkey of an ISIS commander recovering at a Turkish hospital in Hatay. While Turkey claims medical treatment for ISIS terrorists wounded in Syria (or Iraq) is a humanitarian act, the same Turkish government prosecutes doctors who treat protestors wounded in demonstrations against the Turkish government’s authoritarianism in Istanbul.

Turkey’s motives were simple. They were determined that the Kurds would not have their way. What better way than to back ISIS?

Saudi Arabia’s hatreds were equally compelling. They hated the Shi’ite Maliki and all infidels.  What better way to rev up ISIS?

Obama had the desire to lead the Middle East from behind while keeping the peace in it. What better way than to hire proxies.

Was it  his fault that as it turned out, some of those proxies were ISIS under other aliases?

This leaves Obama in the dicey position of possibly being the first US president to actually be at war with himself on two sides of Syrian/Iraq border. On one side Obama supports the Syrian rebels, for whom he has requested $500 million in aid from Congress. On the other side he is committed to fight them to the death — with the help of the Spetsnaz and the Qods. What a deal.  The New York Times explains how the Syrian rebels will be “vetted” before being “helped”.

WASHINGTON — President Obama requested $500 million from Congress on Thursday to train and equip what the White House is calling “appropriately vetted” members of the Syrian opposition, reflecting increased worry about the spillover of the Syrian conflict into Iraq.

The training program would be a significant step for a president who has consistently resisted providing military aid to the rebels in the conflict in Syria, and has warned of the dangers of American intervention. But military and State Department officials indicated that there were not yet any specific programs to arm and train the rebels that the money would fund, nor could administration officials specify which moderate Syrian opposition members they intended to train and support, or where they would be trained.

As Michael Totten notes, the administration has achieved the almost unbelievable feat of turning a civil war into a regional war. “The Syrian civil war is no longer the Syrian civil war. It’s a regional war that started in Syria, has expanded into Lebanon and Iraq, and has drawn in the Iranians and to a lesser extent the Kurds and the Israelis.”

The only way to properly describe the results of Obama’s “smart diplomacy” is to invoke Hollywood imagery. He’s actually started the real world equivalent of a Western bar room brawl. It’s everyone against everyone, and everyone for everyone. Chairs are broken over people’s heads, bottles smashed on unsuspecting victims, fists hammered into the nearest convenient face while assailants from both parties swing from the light fixtures. John Kerry performs the office of the squeezebox player, mindlessly pounding out a tune for as long as the instrument survives being reduced to matchwood or he too is smacked on the head with the remnants of a table.

[jwplayer mediaid=”37785″]

How do you say yee-ha in Arabic?

Somewhere in the midst of this uproar ISIS has declared the foundation of the Caliphate. The New York Times informs its readers that a “caliphate is a Muslim empire that in theory encompasses all Muslims worldwide, and is a term used to describe empires like that of the Ottomans in Turkey in the 15th to 20th centuries, as well as those that did rule much of the civilized world in the early days of Islam.”

It’s back. Radical Muslims have been trying unsuccessfully to revive the Caliphate. They had failed despite all their efforts for nearly a hundred years. Then they had six years under Obama. Yee-ha.

The NYT tells its readers that the leader of the Caliphate has announced his true name. “The ISIS announcement also revealed Mr. Baghdadi’s alleged real name — Ibrahim Ibn Awwad Ibn Ibrahim Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Badri al-Hashimi al-Husayni al-Qurashi — and said he would be known as Caliph Ibrahim for short.” Maybe al-Qurashi introduced himself as “Honest Al” when meeting with State Department screeners on the other side of the Syrian border.

The Washington Post caught the unreality of the cultural transpositions in Glenn Kessler’s lastest article. Obama actually said  Syrian oppositionists are ‘former farmers or teachers or pharmacists’.

“Oftentimes, the challenge is if you have former farmers or teachers or pharmacists who now are taking up opposition against a battle-hardened regime, with support from external actors that have a lot at stake, how quickly can you get them trained; how effective are you able to mobilize them.” –President Obama, news conference, June 19, 2014

“When you talk about the moderate opposition, many of these people were farmers or dentists or maybe some radio reporters who didn’t have a lot of experience fighting.” –Obama, interview with National Public Radio, May 29

There is a distressing tendency in the Administration to regard everyone in the world — no matter the background — as simply Americans with funny names. As Nancy Pelosi described the Mexican border: “We are all Americans — north and south in this hemisphere  …  this is a community, with a border going through it.”  Sure. This characterization works in Syria and Iraq too apparently. The ISIS and Shi’ite militias are just dentists and pharmacists just raring to get home and play baseball.

But Iraqis, however, have very definite ideas about identity. Identity is why they are killing each other in Obama’s borderless world. They have made fun of the administration’s slow response, contrasting it with the alacrity of the Russians and the Iranians — who to them are not simply Americans with exotic names. The Telegraph captured the stately pace of presidential decision making in its headline “Obama ponders as Iran sends troops to Iraq”.

Ponders. Ponders.

The word is suggestively ridiculous, conjuring up images of Obama as Edgar Allen Poe’s luckless narrator pondering the messages of woe brought to him by the Raven, perched on a $9.99 Churchill bust in the Oval Office purchased from S-Mart to replace the one Obama sent back to Britain. It’s a ridiculous image, but then so is the situation, so tragic that it’s almost comical.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of State Department lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of NSA come gently hacking, wiretapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis the Qods,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak September,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – the re-election that I hoped to borrow
And from Candy begged surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the renewed core –
For the sudden and Islamic rising, fighters who attacked by score and more –
Nameless here for evermore.

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – referring to polls, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by Allah we both adore –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
They shall hew my statue on the mountain that they name Rushmore –
Carve a rare and radiant likeness, whom the LIVs shall then adore?’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the S-Mart Churchill bust above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And the polls from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

In truth Obama’s can do nothing more than ponder. He’s painted himself into a corner, destroyed his presidency with terminal stupidity. Will his foreign policy recover?

Awk! Nevermore!

Awk! Nevermore!

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